CA confirms nomination of new Comelec commissioner

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 01 2021 02:59 PM | Updated as of Dec 01 2021 04:47 PM

Rey Echavarria Bulay poses for a photo with Commission on Appointments (CA) Chairperson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III and chairperson of the CA committee on constitutional commissions and offices, Senator Cynthia Villar after being appointed as Comelec commissioner on December 1, 2021. Albert Calvelo, Senate PRIB handout
Rey Echavarria Bulay poses for a photo with Commission on Appointments (CA) Chairperson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III and chairperson of the CA committee on constitutional commissions and offices, Senator Cynthia Villar after being appointed as Comelec commissioner on December 1, 2021. Albert Calvelo, Senate PRIB handout

MANILA - The Commission on Appointments has approved the nomination of Manila’s Chief Prosecutor Rey Echavarria Bulay, as the newest Commissioner of the Commission on Elections.

Bulay will assume the post vacated by former commissioner Luie Tito Guia, and will serve until February 2, 2027.

A former Muntinlupa City Councilor, Bulay, in his opening statement before the CA Wednesday, opted to identify himself more as a "voter" who joined various political groups as volunteer-member In previous elections.

Bulay, a San Beda College alumnus, served as commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

Bulay said he applied for the Comelec post with an objective to update the already obsolete 1985 Omnibus Election Code.

“The Comelec can work with a Mount Olympus of talents… and address the Omnibus Election Code,” Bulay told the CA members.

Bulay said he has already studied how the electoral exercise will proceed, as he assured his commitment to guard the people’s votes.

“To serve the Filipinos especially to safeguard the political will which is everybody’s program. It affects the entire country... from the elite down to the masses. Kung magkamali ng pipili sa eleksyon na ito (If we choose wrong in the elections),” Bulay said.

Prior to his confirmation, Bulay was quizzed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a presidential candidate, on the Q Server or the “Meet-Me Room” issue, which a number of political groups fear as a venue where vote results could be tinkered with.

From Bulay’s point of view, next year’s elections will already be free from such controversy.

“Although the current system speaks of the VCM (Vote Counting Machine), I don’t think that’s included now,” Bulay said.

Any form of election result tampering will also be remote because the Source Code Review can be done using the following: 1) server for the media; 2) server for LGUs and; 3) server for Comelec.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, meantime, weighed on Bulay’s position regarding the issue of “political turncoatism” in the country, which the latter said should be confronted by a strong law that will prohibit it, aided by a more powerful Comelec that can address the matter immediately.

"That actually promotes the dynasty or the family side of politics, not the party side of politics," Pimentel said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, questioned Bulay’s net worth increase from 2017 to 2020.

Bulay’s net worth according to Drilon, rose from P52,037,882 in December 2017 to P75,100,744 in December 2020, resulting in a net increase of P23,062,362.

“The report of our staff, however, indicates that based on your reported income tax return, your cumulative income, an income derived from other sources for the same four-year period amounted only to P9,075.024M, resulting in an unaccounted increase only of P13,987,838M… Can you spread it into the record. How your net worth went up and which from the report of our technical group, cannot be supported by your income?” Drilon asked Bulay.

Bulay said it came from sales of property. 

“What grew in my SALN are properties not monies...I am from all indications is a mambubulok. Sa amin sa Muntinlupa, 'yun ang tawag dahil mahilig bumili ng mura tapos ibinebenta ng mahal (In Muntinlupa that's how we are called, those who buy cheap and sell high). So dalawang bagay po: sa kotse, at saka sa bahay (so two things, cars and houses),” Bulay explained.

He added: “The dates mentioned contains two real properties.. one in Ayala, Alabang and the other Alabang proper kung saan ako lumaki (where I grew up). I lost both my parents early parts of this year, at meron din po sila sa akin naiwang salapi (and they also left me cash).”

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the CA committee on constitutional commissions and offices, endorsed Bulay’s nomination at the plenary.

Among those who have seconded his nomination were: Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and administration Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr.